Sudden Winds, Choppy Water Overtake Sailboat

Four people in life vests pulled from water after about 30 minutes

By Alex Perez and BJ Lutz
|  Friday, Aug 20, 2010  |  Updated 8:45 PM CDT
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PHOTOS: Chicago Scene Boat Party

NBCChicago.com

A man and his two children were forced to take a swim in Lake Michigan early Friday evening after their sailboat overturned near Montrose Harbor.

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Sudden winds and choppy water overtook a small sailboat on Friday afternoon, sending two young girls, their father and a neighbor into the water.

Someone, perhaps another passing boater, called police after spotting the four people swimming near Montrose Harbor, at 455 W. Montrose Ave.

"The wind came up kind of suddenly and it's pretty choppy in front of the harbor and especially in the harbor mouth and they were in a relatively small sailboat and the wind caused it to capsize in a really bad position,"  said Chicago Fire Department Deputy District Chief Bruce Gebien.

Everyone was wearing life preservers and were pulled out of the water after about 30 minutes.

"I wasn't really scared because we were really prepared," said 9-year-old Isabella Gonzales, who described the ordeal as "fun."

Boater Jack Hollfelder said the group had been sailing for about an hour before the incident. 

"We were trying to get the boat flipped back upright and then all the police and fire department came over and helped us," he said.  "Though I'm sure we would have been able to upright ourselves on our own, they weren't going to take any chances, so it was great."

About 30 people and three ambulances responded, Gebien said.

Hollfelder said he plans to sail again this weekend.

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